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Maturing from the garden of high school

Many dreams and a lifetime of changes ago, we graduated from Laguna Beach High School. In retrospect, those four years were an extraordinary period of my life, a foundation that has served me well for 40 more.

It would indeed be a romantic notion to say that friendships forged then matured into a lifetime bond. In my case, this has not been so. Although an acquaintance in school, Gly Cooper was destined to become my brother-in-law, and fellow classmate Bob Wright became part of my extended family.

This is not to say that I drifted completely away from former classmates. I have never permanently ventured far from Laguna, with family and business ensuring that the village is my home. Gordon and John Brown have remained a constant since elementary school. From time to time, I bump into Teri (Corsini) Natali, Bob Gardner, Mark Bosco, Bob Carey, Willa (Cather) Kuhn, Mark Laravee, Christy Mikels, Larry Steinle, Brian Jones and Eric Stodder. I must say, they all look splendid for being as old as I am.

Many of us followed or led siblings through school. Gly’s sister, Catharine, is my wife. Cindy Boyd-Chudley’s big brother is our mayor, and a great friend. Joan Gotterba’s brothers, Pete and Bob McMahon, are my attorneys, and Merrilee (Benton) Carpenter’s sister, Jeanine, helped me survive my Design Review Board tenure.


I had no particular proclivity toward horticulture, but was inspired by Mr. Wilkerson’s love of the outdoors and nature. Mr. Johnson exemplified patience and nerves of steel as we all learned to drive and Dr. Calamaro’s existential thinking and classes beneath the ficus trees presaged liberal leanings to come.

My years at LBHS were filled with encouragement to learn, participate and compete. Although the time of Ozzie and Harriet was waning and the Age of Aquarius was dawning, it was a still a time of relative innocence, with the Vietnam War and the Civil and Gay rights movements only concepts which were still a college lifetime away.

The class of 1969 will celebrate our 40th Reunion at 4 p.m. July 25 at Boyd-Chudley’s home, 631 Virginia Park Drive. The next day, we’re gathering at Jay Gilbert’s pool at the Capistrano Pointe Apartments Clubhouse, 26451 Camino de Vista, San Juan Capistrano, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Contact Gordon Brown at (562) 254-4498 or for more information. See you there!

 STEVE KAWARATANI is happily married to award winning writer Catharine Cooper, and has four dogs. He can be reached at (949) 497-8168, or e-mail to